Doctor ‘shocked’ as Lucy Letby asked if baby was ‘leaving here alive’
A DOCTOR was “shocked” when Lucy Letby asked whether a baby was “leaving here alive”, the nurse’s murder trial heard.
Letby, 33, was said to have made the “absolutely shocking” comment ahead of a planned transfer of the infant to another hospital.
The youngster continued to deteriorate as his heart rate and blood oxygen levels dropped, and died less than four hours later before the move from the Countess of Chester Hospital could take place.
Recalling the conversation with Letby, a consultant, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told Manchester Crown Court: “I just said, the transport team are going to be here soon, almost thinking out loud.
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“Literally counting down the minutes before they arrived and desperately wanting this baby to get better, and thinking we are just totally our of our depth and maybe someone else can help.
“Staff nurse Lucy Letby then said ‘he is not leaving here alive, is he?’, which I found absolutely shocking at the time.”
“I said ‘don’t say that’ and left the room.”
Letby is accused of murdering the newborn infant, known as Child P, and his triplet brother, Child O, on successive day shifts in June 2016.
Later the consultant said she remembered another “unusual” event involving Letby after Child P had been pronounced dead.
She said: “ I went to speak to the parents, myself and Lucy Letby were there. I remember feeling, I don’t how to face them or how to say this.
“I told them about that (Child P) was going to need a post-mortem.
“Staff nurse Letby was behind me – one of the things I found unusual was she was almost very animated.
“She was saying to the parents ‘do you want me to make a memory box like I did for (Child O) yesterday?’ I remember thinking this is not a new baby, this is a dead baby. Why are you so excited about this?
“I found that very inappropriate, the way it was said.”
She said she remembered the brothers’ father was “absolutely sobbing and literally begging” for the surviving triplet to be taken from the Countess of Chester.
The consultant said: “Even though I didn’t beg, in my heart and mind I just wanted him to leave because that’s the only way he was going to live.”
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Ben Myers KC, defending, asked her: “Is that because you thought the Countess of Chester’s neonatal unit was unable to cope or are you suggesting that Lucy Letby poses such a danger to small babies?”
The doctor replied: “It definitely was not because the Countess of Chester was not able to cope with a baby like (the surviving triplet). They were completely normal triplets who were expected to run a healthy course.
“I was extremely worried. I couldn’t understand what had gone on in the last two days. In my mind what had gone on was not normal.
“At that point in time I just wanted (the surviving triplet) to be in a safe place.”
Mr Myers asked: “Because of the danger posed by nurse Letby?”
“Yes,” she said.
The barrister went on: “Did you call the police?”
“No,” said the consultant.
Mr Myers said: “If you really thought a nurse was hurting or killing babies you would have been yelling it from the rooftops, wouldn’t you? What about other babies on the unit?”
She explained that at the time she thought the “correct thing” to do was to raise the matter with her colleagues a few days later, and with the neonatal ward manager.
Mr Myers accused her of “dramatising for the benefit of the jury and these proceedings”.
The doctor replied: “No, that’s honestly how I felt at the time. I have no intention of dramatising events. It’s tragic enough as it is.”
She told Mr Myers she was unaware there was a “focus” on Letby being present at the time of child deaths.
She said she had no reason to suspect her of anything up to the point of the deaths of Child O and Child P.
Mr Myers asked: “Did you hear gossip, comment, finger-pointing about Lucy Letby?”
She replied: “Yes, but vaguely. Nothing concrete implicating deaths and increasing mortality rates.”
Mr Myers said: “Who were making these comments?”
The doctor said: “Other junior doctors, some consultant colleagues. But again not in a way that would make you think anything untoward in the way of harm being done was going on.”
Mr Myers suggested Letby was only voicing her concern about Child P in the hours before he died.
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The consultant replied: “I can only speak for myself.”
Mr Myers went on: “Do you think there is a danger here – because it’s Lucy Letby we are dealing with – for her comments to be taken out of context and made to sound quite a lot worse?”
The consultant said: “I found it unusual given the circumstances.”
She agreed all the medics involved with Child P, including Letby, were trying their best in looking after him.
Letby, of Arran Avenue, Hereford, denies the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of 10 others between June 2015 and June 2016.